Selling on a Marketplace? 3 Tips for Managing Returns  

Ecommerce, Retail
Packages Laid Out Across Conveyor Belts

As online sales increase for both B2C and B2B industries, the acceleration isn’t typically driven by the company website. Marketplaces are now the go-to source for online purchases. In fact, according to Gartner, marketplaces account for a staggering 67% of global eCommerce, while corporate websites only make up about 33% of sales.

Think of a marketplace as a digital department store: It’s a site where many vendors sell their wares. There are the classic examples like eBay and Etsy, as well as recent additions like Target+ and Walmart Marketplace.

Tips for Managing Product Returns on Marketplaces

While marketplaces offer opportunities to expand your sales, the logistics of product returns can be more complicated. (We’re not only talking about B2C scenarios, either: Gartner predicts that by 2023, at least 70% of enterprise marketplaces launched will serve B2B transactions.)

Perhaps you have the option to set your own returns policy, or you may be at the mercy of the marketplace’s standards. Whichever the situation, here a few factors to consider for managing the reverse logistics of product returns in a marketplace environment.

Get Automated

Managing returns from multiple eCommerce sites compounds the complexity of your reverse logistics. You may be processing returns at more locations, at a higher rate, with more variability than ever before.

To ensure standardization and efficiency across your locations (and employee workflows), it’s essential to automate returns management processes as much as possible. The more automation you can apply, the better you can manage speed, errors and tracking.  

A returns management system (RMS) can manage the end-to-end needs of your returns logistics, across multiple locations. With an RMS, you can:  

  • Build consistent rules and policies for decision making and inspection, and customize those rules by product or location
  • Give team members clear, consistent workflows for restocking, repairs and re-commerce
  • Improve tracking and processing transparency across your ecosystem
  • Automatically approve, reject or flag returns based on any policy

Track and Measure Everything

Managing returns from your own website, third-party marketplaces and perhaps physical locations quickly becomes a lot to track and measure.

Using your RMS, you should be tracking and answering questions such as:

  • Where do most of my returns originate? Can I determine the reason for that?
  • How much does it cost to manage a return? Does that cost change depending on whether it was returned at a store, in the mail, or through a marketplace?
  • Where are there opportunities to make returns management more efficient?

Because an RMS integrates with other supply chain software (like your WMS, TMS and OMS), it can eliminate the messiness of point systems and instead serve up a clear, end-to-end view of your returns management metrics. Break down data by location, uncover trends, and get the insight you need to improve how you sell, position and restock.

Know how to Prevent Returns

The best way to improve the efficiency of your returns processes is to reduce the volume of returns in the first place. Returns aren’t just an inconvenience: they’re a huge cost to retailers. In a ReverseLogix research study conducted with Lead to Market, 80% of eCommerce retailers reported that the cost of returns to their company is “significant to severe.”

To prevent returns, you need to have the right data at hand to make the right decisions. According to Gartner, most retailers don’t have visibility into their true costs of returns management. And if you don’t know your costs, you can’t figure out how to lower them. RMS technology can open up this black box of data with real-time tracking and visibility into every step of the returns process, from end to end.